Today, March 29th, we are safely on a mooring in Bahia de Caraquez in Ecuador. We arrived here after 5 and a half days of sailing from Las Perlas in Panama. More about the sail in my next blog. I still have not mentioned anything about the three islands we visited in Las Perlas.
On March 16th, Wednesday, we left Isla Taboga at 9 AM to sail to the first island in Las Perlas being Isla Contadora. We got there just in time before the sunset at 6 PM. It was a great day sailing. We did not have a lot of wind all the time and so motor sailed for about one hour when the wind dropped to less than 3 KTS. At times it felt like we were sailing on a lake ! The sea was so calm. Contadora was the island where the Spanish counted the pearls that were harvested from the other islands in the archipelago. The islands produced pearls of many colors and sizes, and during the many years when pearls were harvested from the waters around the islands, the natives would converge to Contadora to count their pearls and sell them to the Spaniards. Early last century there was an underwater epidemic which killed most of the pearl oysters. I was hoping to be able to buy some pearls but no shops to be found on the island. We did make a tour after a rough landing with flipper through the surf and I was thrown out into the water (luckily no harm done only wet shorts and t-shirt and a bruise on my behind). There are lots of beautiful vacation homes from rich panamians spending their WE and holidays on the island. While we were there, there was not a lot of action. The hotel right on the beach had good internet and so we decided to have a drink there to get the password. A small pineapple juice cost us 4.5 USD but at least we could use their internet from the boat :-). The only problem now was getting back to the boat with Flipper through the surf… we managed fairly well, waiting until the waves were not too high…patience is very important when travelling with a boat :-).
March 19th, Saturday, we decided to leave before all the vacationing Panamanians would arrive. At noon we decided to sail to Isla Pedro Gonzalez. We had heard that we would be able to “beach” the boat there since there was a nice stretch of sand without rocks. Since we are in the Pacific the tide difference is not the 30 cm we were used to but now it is about 2-3 meters ! So it is very important you know if you are anchoring at high tide or low tide ! We arrived at 5.30 PM but noticed that on the place where we should have been able to beach the boat they had now build a new marina ! The docks were empty except for one large motor yacht but were almost ready to be used. On the other side they were constructing a dock for fueling (we later found out) and so we turned and anchored on the other side of the village. Clearly lots of development is going on in the islands.
The roosters made me think of the book I read from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, No one writes to the colonel,
It is the story of a poor, veteran colonel and his wife living in Colombia during the years of La Violencia (1948-1958) . The colonel desperately tries to sell the rooster, their inheritance from their only son who is now dead. He is caught between either feeding the rooster and traning for a cockfight or selling the rooster to have money to eat for themselves. I really enjoyed reading the book.
We walked through the town wanting to go to the other side of the island but were stopped at a construction site. The men did not want to let us walk any furhter as this was now private property. The development was called “Pearl Island”, the construction workers had t-shirts and caps with the logo and name, and they were serious we were not to pass. I looked it up on the internet and sure enough a huge luxurious development with a Ritz Carlton is being built in the future. Times are changing…
We left Isla Pedro Gonzalez on March 20th, sunday at noon not sure where we would get before sunset. We just made it to Punta Coco Beach, the southern tip of Isla Del Rey. I was happy we could just anchor with the last bit of light. We noticed a boat from the police or naval authorities but did not think much of it. But 10 minutes later they were at our boat asking us to leave immediately as there was a prison and obviously they did not want us anchored there. In the mean time it had turned dark! We pleaded with them if we could not stay just one night and then leave early in the morning but they were firm, we had to go to the next village and anchor there. So back to the anchor routine, I was getting bitten by no-see-ums and thus was kind of happy we left. Only now we had to find an anchor spot in the dark…20 minutes later we anchored at Rio Cacique in 6 meters and sand bottom. Another yacht was anchored further in the bay. It was 7.30 PM by the time we could start preparing dinner…Rio Cacique was a nice little bay. We went with Flipper up the river an hour before high tide and turned off the motor letting the tide do its work.
On March 22nd, we decided to “beach” Sanuk with the early high tide at 4.40 AM so we would be able to clean the bottom and Stefan could change the zinks.
We were done with all the work by noon and now had to wait till the water did its work and got the boat back out of the sand. This was not such an easy process as we first thought it would be. The tide wanted to push the boat higher on the beach while we tried to keep the boat away from the beach. On top of that the current was not working with us either. Afther some running back and forth with a second anchor and trying to keep the boat afloat away from the beach we finally made it back into the water but it was definitely not an easy exercise. We were both very happy to be back at anchor by about 3 PM. We prepared the two mackerels and put them in the freezer ready to be eaten while sailing to Ecuador.
We left Rio Cacique at 10.30 AM on Wednesday, March 23rd for about 636 NM to Bahia de Caraquez in Ecuador.